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Artifact Friday: SNJ/ T-6 Texan

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

That cool plane in the middle of the white hanger that you can step up and peek inside actually has multiple names. Commonly known as the T-6 Texan, the Navy calls it the SNJ, USAAF considers it the AT-6, while British forces and anyone outside the United States call it Harvard. It is a single-engine advanced training aircraft capable of only carrying the student and teacher. Originated from the NA-16 prototype it was created in North America as an Advanced Trainer and used universally. Inspired by the USAAF who call it the AT, Advanced Trainer, the Navy’s nickname for S for Scout, N for training, and J for the manufacturer. Around 34 countries used these for about 25 years as training planes. Undergoing a facelift in 1948, the T-6 is a sturdy plane to learn how to fly on with extra fuel tanks to allow 140 gallons versus the early 110 gallons. Over 15,000 of these models were made and they were not just training planes. The Texan T-6 won honors in World War II and the early Korean war for its warfare actions. It was rewarded a nickname for its work in Korea, Mosquito, for its effective ground attacks on enemy positions. These planes are not as fast as fighters with a max speed of only 205mph but they are easier to manage. Maneuverability was the goal, pilots could roll, loop, spin, or snap. Any tactic that could advance a pilot’s training was included on these planes, they had equipment for bomb racks, blind flying instruments, guns, and cameras. Dogfighting, bombardment, and ground strafing were various methods these planes experienced as pilots trained. The pilot maker throughout the decades, it has managed to be a maintainable plane with properties making it accessible for all ages of flying learners.

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